Missional? Social Justice? I’m Confused. (Part 2)

Read Part 1 HERE

When I say “missional” you think __________. Let me take 3 guesses:

1 When you hear “missional” you think of a new kind of church, or a new model of church planting. Let’s rule this one out right away, because as I talked about HERE “missional” is just a fairly new word that describes something very old.

2 When you hear “missional” you think about how you are sent to share the good news of Jesus with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You want them to know the good news that Jesus saves! Some would call this evangelism, or sharing the Gospel, or making disciples.

If this is where you land, I bet you are taking the great commission seriously. (Mathew 28:19-20)

3 When you hear the word “missional” you think about feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, joining the fight to end human trafficking, adopting an orphan, building a water well in Africa, or doing more for the homeless community in your city. Some would call this social justice, social action, or the social gospel.

If this is where you land, I bet you are taking the command to love your neighbor seriously.  (Luke 10:25-37)

But which is more important? Which is a priority? Just what should we be spending our lives doing?

I am going to propose that the answer to this question is simpler than you think.

I am going to propose that where you put your faith will determine what “missional” means to you.

I know….I can hear you saying “that is easy Nate, my faith is in Jesus.”

Which makes me want to ask you another question…“Jesus who?”

To Be Continued…

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Missional? Social Justice? I’m Confused. (Part 1)

Mercy, justice, missional, incarnational,renewal, the social gospel…

These seem to be the buzzwords at this moment in time…

At the intersection of faith and social injustice.

We are excited!

We are inspired!

We are confused.

The Rise of the Missional Church

Over the last few years there has been an awakening of what it means to be a Christian, to follow Jesus, to be the Church…

Many refer to this awakening as the rise of the missional church.

In very recent history you may have only been able to find a handful of churches that would describe themselves as “missional”.

Today there are missional churches, missional communities (and Gospel-Centered Families of Servant Missionary Disciples) popping up everywhere.

But what is missional?

“Missional” is a way of living, not an affiliation or an activity.

                                                                 –Reggie McNeal

Missional is redefining what we formerly knew as “church”.

Missional reminds us the church is not a building, a service featuring 4 songs and a sermon, a creepy sub culture, or a country club.

Missional is teaching us that the church is you and me:

*everyday and ordinary people

*who are putting their faith in Jesus

*who are rescued by his grace

*who are following him together

*who are sent to our neighborhoods, workplaces, and cities on his mission

I have this theory that “missional” used to be called things like “Christianity” or “following Jesus”, but since those words have lost their saltiness a new word was formed (an idea I wrote about HERE)

The rise of social awareness and action

In 2012 we are more aware of social injustice than ever.

From Kony, to racism, to human trafficking, the water crisis, and even the organic food revolution: we are more aware than ever that the world is broken.

We long to see things made right.

We want to change the world.

Some of us travel to 3rd world countries, some of us adopt orphans, some of us buy Toms, some of us serve with local non profits, some of us tweet about all of the above.

In 2012 philanthropy and social justice initiatives have invaded our Twitter feeds, Face Book timelines, and have helped us decide which shoes to wear.

The rise of the Missional Church has met the rise of social awareness and action…

We are excited!

We are inspired!

And we are confused.

Should we be telling our neighbors and co-workers about Jesus?

Should we join the fight to end human trafficking?

Which is more important?

Why in the world would I want to do either?

In this series of posts I want to explore this confusion.

Although it is not guaranteed…

I would love for us to get some clarity as to why we find ourselves in a generation of people who want to change the world…yet we still can’t change ourselves.

To be continued….


Don’t Start Missional Communities

Everybody that starts a church wants it to grow fast. (yes…even us “missional community” guys)

Some of the reasons are good, like “I just want more people to know the grace of God that can only be found in Christ Jesus”. (that’s a dang good reason)

Some of the reasons are probably jacked up, like “I just want to be a famous pastor, have a comfy income, get invited to speak at conferences with other famous pastors, get 436 re-tweets of my deepest thoughts, and write a book that makes mamma proud and Joel Osteen nervous”. (for the record….I am sure those things are great…but likely make poor motivations)

But let’s be honest: very few people ever born can communicate like Matt Chandler, think like Time Keller, or dress like this guy. (don’t click the “this guy” link….don’t do it….I warned you)

The reality is that most of us will struggle to make ends meet, never get invited to speak anywhere, our blogs won’t become bestsellers, and our churches…if they grow….will grow slow.

If you want your church to grow fast, DON’T START “MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES”!

In my experience (yes…all 3 years) Missional Community driven churches grow painfully slow…and here is one reason why….

People really just want to be left alone.

What I mean is that most of us Americans who grew up on a steady diet of consumerism and individualism just want a “spiritual buzz” on Sundays.

We don’t want to be known, challenged, and we certainly don’t want to be taught that following Jesus happens 7 days a week….we don’t have time for that.

So if you want to start something that grows fast here is what I think might work…

Start a weekly meeting that features a good looking and talented singer (4 songs max), teach a short ‘spiritual message” that never talks about the cost of following Jesus, and tell people that you will see them next week.

Whatever you do….don’t start missional communities.


missional community | formerly known as following Jesus

I am part of a “missional community….I think?

Others would call it something like:

*a city group

*a gospel community

*a gospel community on mission

*a life group

*a community group

*a parish

*a family of servant missionaries

*an awkward group of Christians

And the list goes on and on…you get the point.

But what are we all talking about? What is a “missional community”?

It seems that Christians everywhere are starting to notice that something is wrong: that our experience of “church” does not look much like the “church” we read about in our Bibles:

A diverse community of people who are perfectly loved by Jesus, who are learning to follow him and to love one another and their neighbors.

In fact when we say the word “church” in America many things come to mind:

*a meeting on Sunday morning where a guy with a “faux hawk” does 4 or 5 bad covers of Hillsong United songs (guilty as charged)

*a building where their parents forced them to go to a flannel graph lesson on Sundays and a cold lasagna dinner on Wednesday nights

*a television preacher who tells them if they will send in a check that God wants to “bless them” with a fat bank account

*a 45 minute message from an excited preacher who thinks he is funnier and more insightful than he really is….who probably could have said the same thing in 20…..(guilty as charged)

On top of that some people just get mad when they hear the word “church” because it is a place where they have felt judged and rejected….not to mention that they blame us for the fact that Chick Fila is closed on Sundays.

Whatever people think when they hear the word “church”, they probably aren’t thinking:

A diverse community of people who are perfectly loved by Jesus, who are learning to follow him and to love one another and their neighbors.

I am coming to the conclusion that words like “missional community” exist because maybe we have given up on just calling it what it is: being “the Church”…formerly known as following Jesus.

Instead of redefining and recovering the power and beauty of those words…..

It might just be easier to start from scratch……and start “missional communities”.

So I am curious on your thoughts:

What do you call your “missional communities”?

And why?